The Last TV Mushaira of Faiz Ahmed Faiz
By Dr Basheer Ahmed Khan
Garden Grove, CA

A few years back I was looking for some material about Faiz Ahmed Faiz on internet when I stumbled upon a recording of a Mushaira which was held in London by BBC Urdu Program. Urdu language must be grateful to BBC because it was not just an important source of news about the subcontinent but also a great treasure and archive of the cultural heritage of the subcontinent. BBC Urdu program assuaged the need of information and fortified the connection of people of the subcontinent with their cultural heritage; not just for the diaspora but also for its inhabitants.
I was pained to read in one of the reports circulated by a think tank in London in which it blamed Urdu for the evil plaguing the subcontinent. People, who are planning to impose their experiments in genetic, social, economic and political engineering, consider Urdu which is a treasure of the evolved consciousness of mankind to be a threat to their plans, and want to erase it. It is obvious that such characters with a vested interest must have produced this report. Those who are unaware of the evils of the old systems and are unwilling to discard them, and do not understand the benefits of the new and are unwilling to embrace them, are partners in this tango with those who in their ignorance and in their arrogance consider all old values irrelevant to modern life.
Coming back to this Mushaira of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, it was presided over by Gopi Chand Narang who was the professor of Urdu at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi, and a well-known literary figure of India. He said: Urdu poetry is not about advancement of regional culture and parochial ideas and ideology but represents the universal aspirations of mankind. Faiz sahib has such a command over its vocabulary that he expresses the most delicate and the most complex thought with ease to establish its universal appeal. He has thus found a place for himself among the masters of poetry of yesteryear like Ghalib, Meer, etc. and the doyens of modern times like Josh. Even though Faiz is a revolutionary poet his poetry is full of romantic expressions. The tone of his poetry is musical and not that of a marching band. He speaks about the tragedies of the time, the pain of the people and their aspirations about the problems of the society and about the political issues, not to inflame conflicts but to engender love. He wants to open new vistas of understanding illuminating the mind and energizing the heart. The message of Faiz sahib touches the aching heart of humanity with tender love to make it understand the reason of his pain rather than inflame it more, said Gopi chand Narang.
Faiz is conscious of this quality of his poetry and that is why he titled one of his poetic collection as Dasthay Saba, (The hand of morning breeze), and another one as Dasthay Thahay Sang (The hand under the stone) to let his readers know that as he is engaged in healing the aching heart with the touch of his gentle hand, his tormenters have limited its efficacy by crushing his hand under the stone to stop his poetic struggle.
After the introduction by Gopi Chand Narang the announcer of BBC with her sweet voice gives us this sad news that what we will be hearing from Faiz is his rendering at the last Mushaira of his life. Faiz Ahmed Faiz takes over the mike to present one poem and one ghazal in a voice that emanates from his heart and touches the hearts of the listeners arousing rapturous appreciation. The two pieces of his poetry which he rendered in this Mushaira were not only an example of a hand stoking gently the surface of wounded hearts to give relief to it, but an expression of the limitations of his poetry and its touch.
The poem was a lullaby titled “The Crying Child” and the ghazal is a ghazal, like Rose is a Rose. The ghazal has no title. It is a bouquet consisting of flowers of various hues and types; everyone completer with its own beauty and its unique fragrance. Every couplet in a ghazal likewise is each individual complete and perfect in its meaning. Every couplet tells about a different aspect of life in symbols and similes to arouse thoughts hitherto unfamiliar causing ecstasy. A couplet is more than a picture, it is a video; the two lines of a couplet pack a punch and a pun defied by a thousand words. First is the translation of lullaby titled:
Do Not Cry O Child:

Transliteration of Urdu poem Translation
Muth Ro Bachchay
Ro Ro Kay Abhi
Thayri Ammi Ki Aankh Lagi Hai

Muth Ro Bachchay
Thayre Abba Nay Kuch Hi Pehle
Apnay Gham Say Rukhsath Li Hai

Muth Ro Bachchay
Thayra Bhai
Apnay Khwab Ki Thithli Peechay
Door Kisi Pardes Gaya Hai

Muth Ro Bachchay
Thayri Baaji Ka Dola
Door Paraye Des Gaya Hai


Muth Ro Bachchay
Thayray Aangan Mein Baadal
Murda Sooraj Nehla kay Gaye Hain
Chandra Maan Dafna Kay Gaye Hain

Muth Ro Bachchay
Thoo Roye-Ga Tho
Ammi, Abba, Bhai Baaji,
Chand Aur Sooraj
Aur bhi Tujh Ko Rulwayenge
Thoo Muskaiga Tho
Ek Din Yay Sab
Tujh Say Khelnay Ye Sab
Bhes Badal Kar Laut Aayenge. Do Not Cry O Child
After long hours of mourning
Your Mother has just slept
Do Not Cry O Child
Your Dad is just out
From his worldly sufferings
And has gone on eternal rest

Do Not Cry O Child
Pursuing the butterfly of his dream
To the land unseen
Your brother has left

Do Not Cry O Child
On the sedan chair
To her Grooms’ place
Your sister has left

Do Not Cry O Child
The clouds over your house
Have bathed the setting Sun
And buried the shining Moon

Do Not Cry O Child
If you cry,
Your Mom, dad, brother and Sister
The clouds, the Sun and the Moon
Will add more to your gloom
But if you laugh
Might be they will someday,
change their costume.
And return to you and play.
And now the translation of

The Ghazal:
Transliteration of Ghazal Translation
Durbar May Aab Sithwathay Shahi
Ki Alaamath
Durban Ka Aasa Hai Tho Musannif
Ka Khalam Hai

Aawara Hai Phir Kohe Nida* Par
Jo Basharath
Thamheed Masarrath Hai Kay
Thool E Shabay Gham Hai

*In olden days people used to make important announcement from top of the hill which I have translated as TV screen in modern sense of the term

Jis Noor Say Hai Shehr Ki
Deewar Darakhshan
Yay Khoone Shaheedan Hai
Kay Zar Khana E Jam Hai

Yay Dhaj-ji Jo Galiyon Main
Liyay Phir-thay Hain Thif-laan
Yay Mera Giray-ban Hai
Kay Lashkar Ka Alam Hai

Halkha Kiyay Bhaitay Raho
Sham’aa Guzaro
Kuch Raushni Baakhi Hai
Har Chand Kay Kam Hai
The symbol of majesty
In the halls of power
Is the might of Royal Force
And the sycophant pen

I am not sure if the vague news
Appearing on TV screen
Is preamble to happiness?
Or a prelude
to a long night of distress!



Do the glittering walls in towns
Get their glitter from
the blood of the martyrs
Or the wealth of financiers?

Is the piece of cloth
the youth in the town flutter
the flag of a movement or
my collar torn by tormentors?

O you who encircle the lamp
Sit around it tight
There is still some light
Though not bright.



I may be accused of moral equivalency, but in my opinion both Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Field Marshal Ayub Khan who incarcerated him, tormented him and exiled him were sincere in the progress of their country and the happiness of its people. Our civilization has progressed to reach the present stage by the intellectual honesty of intelligentsia and the hard work of artisans and Army. Ever since characters born with golden spoons in their mouths in the castles of big towns and trained in the art of grabbing power have dominated the political landscape of democracy, the brain and the brawn are in conflict with each other. This artificial intelligence trained in liberal universities is adept in political intrigues to make false promises to get the support of the people to occupy the seats of power and kick those who were occupying it in disgrace. This tussle for power grab between Ayub Khan and Bhutto had many casualties of which one was Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Someone’s misery is someone’s memory. Misery helped Faiz sharpen his understanding of realities around him and present it to awaken the people, it also gave me my memories of him. If Ayub Khan had not exiled Faiz, he would not have got the visa to visit India to attend the literary meet at Aloka Mysore sometime in the late seventies and given me the opportunity to see this great poet and interview him (Pakistan Link April 3, 2011). May Allah forgive both Gen Ayub and Bhutto Sahib. May Allah protect the dim light of social justice left by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and promote its brilliance to enlighten the darkened hearts of exploiters of mankind and endow them with magnanimity to repent for their past mistakes and make social justice their new goal instead of the next billion. Amen.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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